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Equity assets in retirement plans dropped in value by about $4 trillion between October 9, 2007 and October 9, 2008. The decline was divided equally between defined benefit and 401(k)/Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The decline in the defined benefit arena was in turn divided equally between private sector plans and those sponsored by state and local governments. This paper explores what a loss of roughly $1 trillion of state and local defined benefit equity assets means for the individual participants and for the taxpayers of the sponsoring entities.
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